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Time-Saving Impact of an Algorithm to Identify Potential Surgical Site Infections

B. C. Knepper MPH MSc, H. Young MD, T. C. Jenkins MD and C. S. Price MD
Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology
Vol. 34, No. 10 (October 2013), pp. 1094-1098
DOI: 10.1086/673154
Stable URL:
Page Count: 5
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Time-Saving Impact of an Algorithm to Identify Potential Surgical Site Infections
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Objective. To develop and validate a partially automated algorithm to identify surgical site infections (SSIs) using commonly available electronic data to reduce manual chart review.Design. Retrospective cohort study of patients undergoing specific surgical procedures over a 4-year period from 2007 through 2010 (algorithm development cohort) or over a 3-month period from January 2011 through March 2011 (algorithm validation cohort).Setting. A single academic safety-net hospital in a major metropolitan area.Patients. Patients undergoing at least 1 included surgical procedure during the study period.Methods. Procedures were identified in the National Healthcare Safety Network; SSIs were identified by manual chart review. Commonly available electronic data, including microbiologic, laboratory, and administrative data, were identified via a clinical data warehouse. Algorithms using combinations of these electronic variables were constructed and assessed for their ability to identify SSIs and reduce chart review.Results. The most efficient algorithm identified in the development cohort combined microbiologic data with postoperative procedure and diagnosis codes. This algorithm resulted in 100% sensitivity and 85% specificity. Time savings from the algorithm was almost 600 person-hours of chart review. The algorithm demonstrated similar sensitivity on application to the validation cohort.Conclusions. A partially automated algorithm to identify potential SSIs was highly sensitive and dramatically reduced the amount of manual chart review required of infection control personnel during SSI surveillance.

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